Guest opinion: A marcher’s takeaways from women’s rally
The Women’s March on Washington, D.C., last weekend and sister marches all over the U.S. and the world are a testament to the magnitude of our corrupt political climate and the effect it will have on the entire planet. People from every walk of life came together in solidarity for the rights being stripped from all Americans in an attempt to erase the lines that divide us. Much of the march’s mission was centered on exposing the dangerous, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, ableist and downright offensive rhetoric of the current administration.
Even Carbondale and a host of other small towns showed their support by marching in harsh weather. I was fortunate enough to tag along with a group of intelligent, empowered women from Carbondale and Denver to Washington for the flagship rally.
What I saw there was incredibly powerful. People were supporting each other publicly in the most truly peaceful protest I have ever witnessed. The city was filled to capacity with pink hats and witty signs. I saw transsexual and queer rights being discussed openly. I saw women of color and indigenous women being given the stage to voice the injustice they endure and offer movement in a positive direction toward a more balanced future.
Right now I believe the most important thing we can do is continue the patterns of empathy, support, honesty and public outcry that were laid out by the Women’s March. We must show the Trump administration that we will not back down or be divided. We must stay unified under the understanding that the men and women running our country are not following the wishes of the people and are already creating an unsafe environment for a large demographic.
That dangerous environment, for many groups, has existed as long as they have. This means we must continue to march, it means continuing to open up conversation around these topics, and it means doing something every day to show resistance to this administration.
For me, that involves educating myself more and more on the plight of different groups involved. It means putting pressure on my local government officials to do the right thing and refuse to follow suit when the federal government creates laws that endanger our communities. It means creating political art, voicing my opinion and creating spaces for others to do the same.
I think it is also incredibly important to check where our privileges lie in these issues. White, cisgender women need to move over and step out of the spotlight for those who never truly had access to the rights that many of us fear losing right now. The issues at hand include indigenous rights, racial injustice, immigrant rights, transsexual rights and representation, access to reproductive and hormonal health resources, equal pay for equal work, and the list goes on.
A large number of marginalized groups in this country need the representation and conscious allies in this fight more than ever because they have the most to lose. I am white, queer and gender-fluid, and this weekend opened my eyes to the reasons why this fight is significantly more important for those marginalized groups than it is for me.
Personally, I do not fear being deported as I am privileged to be a citizen of the U.S., but I have friends who do. I do not fear being assaulted on a regular basis for my gender identity or sexuality because I live in a decently liberal and safe place, but I have friends and loved ones who do. I do not fear being incarcerated based on my race when I protest, but I have seen that fear in the eyes of my fellow Americans. I do not have a history of injustice done to my people that stems back hundreds of years, in fact my heritage lies on the side of the oppressor.
I intend to use these privileges to again make space for those who do not start with these rights. I have always been fortunate to feel like I had a voice, and it is my duty in this fight to facilitate the same for those who have not had the same opportunity to speak. I am learning to listen more fully and try to understand the struggle of a diverse group. I am learning to be silent when others are expressing their struggle and to empathize and mobilize to defend them.
The word intersectional has been thrown around a lot in the last few days, and with good reason. In this case it means that we need to allow this fight to bring together every skin color, every gender, every sexuality, every social class and every religion in equal and honest representation. This also means those who have had little to no representation previously should receive more than those who are consistently represented in mainstream culture.
We must recognize where our similarities lie while celebrating our differences. When we stand up for or emphasize the rights of one group over another we divide ourselves further, the opposite of what will move us all forward. We must acknowledge how far we have to go on creating equality even within the movement. We must show those who do not feel equally represented, or at times even feel excluded by the movement that we are listening and we are willing to change to care for their needs.
I am still learning, as we all are, how to be intersectional, how to be inclusive, respectful and to be as just as possible in our fight. I mean only to acknowledge what I have seen and to receive feedback. My opinions on this fight are ever evolving, as I believe they should be. Now more than ever we must show our government that we are strong together, that the public controls the fate of this country. We will no longer stand for manipulation, elitist or bigoted behavior or the destruction of our constitutional rights as Americans.
Caito Foster of Glenwood Springs attended last weekend’s march for women’s rights in Washington.
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